US to Give Israel Record
By Aron Heller
The Associated Press
States offered Israel
an unprecedented $30 billion of military aid over 10 years on Thursday,
bolstering its closest Mideast ally and
ensuring the state's military edge over its neighbors long into the future.
The package was meant in part to offset U.S. plans to offer Saudi Arabia advanced weapons and
air systems that would greatly improve the Arab country's air force. Israel has said
it has no opposition to the Saudi aid.
The deal represents a 25 percent rise in U.S. military aid to Israel, from a current $2.4 billion
a year to $3 billion a year over the next 10 years.
Under Secretary of State for Political
Affairs Nicholas Burns said the package was meant to back peace-seeking
countries like Israel and
moderate Arab states in the region to counter U.S.
adversaries such as Iran.
"The only way to peace is to show
countries like Iran and Syria that the U.S.
will remain the primary factor of stability in this region," Burns said at
Foreign Ministry. "We are going to stand up for our friends."
has expressed grave concern over Iran
and Syria's backing of the
Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.
In addition, the United States
charges Iran is backing
Shiite insurgents in its war in Iraq
and trying to develop nuclear weapons.
States and Israel
also accuse Iran of
developing nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran
denies. Iran's president has
said Israel should be wiped
off the map and Israel
its main enemy.
Burns said the deal would ensure Israel's
qualitative edge over its neighbors. The United
States is also proposing a large weapons package to Saudi Arabia, which has historically been an
Israeli enemy but has indicated a willingness to attend a U.S.-backed peace
conference with Israel
in the fall. Saudi Arabia
and other Sunni-led Arab allies of the United
States are also wary of Iran's increasing influence in the
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he understands the U.S. need to bolster Saudi
Arabia in the face of Iran. The increase in military aid
would guarantee its strategic superiority despite upgrades to other Arab
countries' defense systems, Olmert has said.
Burns and Israeli Foreign Minister
Director-General Aharon Abramovitch
signed the memorandum of understanding that stated the "unshakable
commitment of the United States
The aid package to Israel was finalized in June in Washington by President
Bush and Olmert.
has long-standing commitments to Israel
and to Egypt, which in 1979
became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel.
Egypt currently receives $1.3
billion a year in military assistance.
central bank chief, Stanley Fischer, said the U.S.
aid is of "critical importance" to Israel, whose defense budget
constitutes about 10 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.
The Bush administration must still receive
congressional approval for the aid deal, but Burns said he believed there would
be little opposition.